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7 Amazing Waterfalls in North Carolina

7 Amazing Waterfalls in North Carolina

North Carolina is known for its natural beauty and the variety of landscapes offered.  But within the southern Appalachian range of mountains, nowhere else will explorers find a more superb collection of tumbling waters. 

We’ve collected just seven of these gems for you to put on your bucket list, along with nearby campsites to complete your journey to each.

Let’s dive in to the best waterfalls in North Carolina!

#1 Moore Cove Falls

About the Falls:  This 50-foot tall waterfall can be found along the Moore Cove Falls hiking trail just west of Brevard.  The hike is only .75 miles in from the trailhead and is an easy trail for hikers of all abilities. 

The unique nature of Moore Cove Falls lies in its situation, descending from a cliff that overhangs a cave.  So visitors can view the falls from behind! 

During dry season Moore Cove can become just a trickle, so the best time to view is after a good rain.

Location:  6.5 miles west of Brevard on Highway 276

Great Nearby Campsite:   Located just 3 miles from Brevard, the Davidson River Campground makes a great staging point to explore Moore Cove Falls and many other natural wonders in Pisgah National Forest. 

144 campsites lie along the river and, at $30 per night with electric hookups, that’s a nice deal for such a scenic site.  Each campsite includes a picnic table and a fire ring, and toilets and hot showers are also available.

North Carolina Waterfall Vibes Score:   9.2/10

#2 Crabtree Falls

About the Falls:  Located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, the trail for Crabtree Falls starts just beyond Crabtree Meadows Campground.  This 70-foot waterfall is located in dense forest, and although the falls are only about 1.5 miles from the trailhead, it is rather strenuous. 

Because of the massive spray, the landscape around Crabtree Falls is filled with ferns and in early summer, wildflowers.

Location:  45 miles north of Asheville at Mile Marker 339 on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Great Nearby CampsiteCrabtree Meadows Campground is situated right on Blue Ridge Parkway with 97 campsites available to both tenters and RVers.  Toilets, potable water, and a dump station can also be found within the campground. 

The trailhead to Crabtree Falls starts at the campground, making it a convenient stop for day hikers, as well.

North Carolina Waterfall Vibes Score:  8.8/10

#3 Mingo Falls

About the Falls :  Known as Big Bear Falls in the Cherokee language, Mingo is one of the largest waterfalls in the southern Appalachians at 190 feet in height.  It’s located just outside the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, North Carolina on the Cherokee Indian Reservation. 

The hike to the falls is less than half a mile, but the gradient is moderate, with hikers encountering 161 steps to climb to reach a bridge at the base of this beautiful cascade.

Location:  5 miles south of Oconaluftee Visitor Center, travel through Cherokee, turning on Big Cove Road.  Mingo Falls trailhead is 4.5 miles down the road at Sherrill Cove Road, the turnoff for Mingo Falls Campground.

Great Nearby Campsite:  Mingo Falls Campground is the starting point for the waterfall hike, with electric hookups for RVs.  Campsites are scattered along Mingo Creek, providing scenic space in a lush mountain forest.

North Carolina Waterfall Vibes Score:   9.5/10

#4 Soco Falls

About the Falls:  Visitors get double the treat at Soco, where two waterfalls converge in the forest!  The taller of the two is 120 feet high, and access to the falls from the Blue Ridge Parkway is at Soco Gap (Mile Post 455.7) to Highway 19. 

Only one small sign designates the parking area for the trailhead, but you will hear the falls from the road!

Location:  Located one-and-a-half miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway, Soco Falls likes just off North Carolina Highway 19.

Great Nearby CampsiteMile High Campground is just 4 miles from the falls, offering primitive campsites to tenters and RVers.  Even though there are no hookups, you’ll find hot showers and flush toilets available. Each site is secluded with a great mountain view!

North Carolina Waterfall Vibes Score:   9.4/10

#5 Catawba Falls

About the Falls (height, access, details):  It took an Act of Congress, but Catawba Falls is now open to the public and fully accessible.  At over 100 feet high, it was worth the wait to view this stunning waterfall, set in the middle of the Smoky Mountains. 

Viewers will be treated with three separate falls after an easy hike, due to new footbridges, trail, and parking areas.

Location:  Best accessed from I-40 and Catawba River Road at Old Fort, North Carolina.  Drive 3 miles to the end of the road and the parking lot for a one-and-a-half mile hike to the waterfalls.

Great Nearby Campsite:  You can’t camp any closer to the falls than at Catawba Falls Campground.  With 35 sites (most along the river), a bathhouse, laundry, campground store, and fishing pond, campers won’t lack for anything!  Partial and full hookups are available for RVs, and there are three primitive cabins for rent, as well.

North Carolina Waterfall Vibes Score:   9.2/10

#6 Whitewater Falls

About the Falls:  At 811 feet in height, Whitewater Falls is taller than any waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains and is a popular attraction in western North Carolina. 

It lies so close to the state line that the lower falls are best viewed from South Carolina!  Take a quarter-mile hike from the parking lot to a viewing platform.

Location:  Travel 8 miles south of Sapphire on Highway 281 to the parking lot.

Great Nearby Campsite:  Ammons Branch Campground is a national forest campground with 4 primitive sites and a pit toilet.  Quiet surroundings and close to several waterfalls in the area, it’s a nice respite for smaller vehicles and tenters.

North Carolina Waterfall Vibes Score:  8.6/10

#7 Rainbow Falls

About the Falls:  Located with Gorges State Park, Rainbow Falls is just one of three different waterfalls within a 2-mile stretch of Horsepasture River.  A one-and-a-half-mile hike brings visitors to this 150-foot tall cascade, giving them the opportunity to view it from all angles. 

Swim in the water below, then drive off on one of the huge boulders that are scattered in the river.  The trailhead for this hike is at the Grassy Ridge parking area of the state park.

Location:  South of Sapphire on Highway 281, the park is located just .7 miles from town.

Great Nearby Campsite:  Gorges State Park offers primitive campsites in a variety of areas, and is just about as close as one can get to Rainbow Falls.  Check out Raymond Fisher Campground within the park, where 8 designated sites are available with picnic tables and fire rings.  Then take advantage of visiting the falls at several times of day, since they are literally out your back door!

North Carolina Waterfall Vibes Score:  9.0/10

Plan You Adventure to One of These Waterfalls in North Carolina

Narrowing down the number of beautiful waterfalls in the state of North Carolina is quite a chore, as there are scores of them scattered throughout the Smoky Mountain region. 

But these seven should give travelers a good start at exploring these natural wonders in the Tarheel State.

If you’re traveling with an RV, trip planning to North Carolina is essential.

We use RV Trip Wizard to route our cross country trips.

It allows us to avoid steep passes, tolls, and tunnels – making travel day way less stressful! Try RV Trip Wizard Free for 7 Days.

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